Friday, September 30, 2005

from Homeschooling Illinois Leg and Learning (HILL) blog

Passing this idea on from Homeschooling Illinois Leg and Learning (HILL) blog:

Call Senator Inhofe's Office Monday

This is Kara's idea regarding Senator Inhofe's letter --- call his office to register opposition to his bill.

Here's the information:
So, Monday it is! Tuesday if we're able to flood the lines so completely as to overload the phone lines on Monday!
In the Senate, the bill is known as S 1691 a.k.a. Homeschool NonDiscrimination Act or HoNDA.

You might like to state that you're a homeschooler and you are opposed to the bill, you believe it will harm homeschooling, and are asking Inhofe to drop his sponsorship of the bill.

Here are Inhofe's phone numbers:
It's probably best if you're out-of-Oklahoma to call the D.C. office, but I left all the numbers here anyway.

Senator's Offices

Washington, DC
453 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3603
Phone: 202-224-4721
Fax: 202-228-0380

1924 S. Utica Avenue
Suite 530
Tulsa, OK 74104-6511
Phone: 918-748-5111
Fax: 918-748-5119

Oklahoma City
1900 NW Expressway
Suite 1210
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
Phone: 405-608-4381
Fax: 405-608-4120

215 E. Choctaw
Suite 106 McAlester, OK 74501
Phone: 918-426-0933
Fax: 918-426-0935

302 N. Independence
Suite 104
Enid, OK 73701
Phone: 580-234-5105
Fax: 580-234-5094

Kill the Bill

This link is a source of information about H.R.3753/S.1691
for people working to kill the bills -- again --and keep homeschooling from being further defined by federal legislation.

I especially like that the anonymous authors of the blog are using the pen name 'Publius'
which was used by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay when they published The Federalist Papers anonymously.

I thought it was kind of clever since they are challenging the constitutionality of the
federal government making laws concerning homeschooling and the
federalist papers were written to influence people to support the
constitution. And IMO, opposing this bill is supporting the constitution.

(Especially since the constitution grants the federal government no power to establish or regulate education at all, that right is reserved for the states and the people.)

A tiny tidbit to consider:
"Some provisions of this bill practically require that the federal government define homeschooling..."
(quoted from

Do we really want the feds defining and regulating homeschooling?
That is
SO not morethanfine!

A couple of other good sources for information:


Thursday, September 29, 2005

What are we afraid of?

Last year the Virginia assembly passed a law that required school districts to inform Homeschoolers when the PSAT is administered. Well, the school board of one good sized Virginia city has a policy that disallows homeschoolers from participation in any school sponsored activities. So this district has interpreted the new law as requiring them to notify of the PSAT but not to administer it to homeschoolers, which they are within the letter of law able to do. But some feel the intent was to allow homeschoolers to take the PSAT at the public school.

Okay, so what. Both big statewide organizations are on top of it and will be represented at the school board meeting. But the bothersome thing is very few local parents are willing to contact their school board representatives and even fewer will consider going to the actual board meeting where the exclusion policy will be discussed. You might think it was just a lack of enthusiasm, but it really feels to me like a lack of confidence.

The thought of facing even local elected officials is very intimidating. Now one would think that since homeschoolers are willing to separate from the 'system' , they might be bold speaking face to face with the representatives of the system they've left. You would think there is nothing to fear from a school board member, they might be your neighbor or the coach of your kid's soccer team. School board members are not usually career politicians savvy in the ways of power brokering--they are local concerned citizens for the most part.

So what are we afraid of? Why does the state organization have to cajole folks into speaking up for themselves? The lack of confidence is sadly not morethanfine. But I admit I feel beset by it myself at times---it is much easier to speak to 'official' type people as a Board member of a statewide organization, than as just little old me, citizen. Why are homeschoolers intimidated by school board members? They really don't have power over us personally, since they have no power over our children if we are homeschooling legally. And yet we fear them.

I have thought of 2 explanations for it:
--we are programmed by our own public school upbringing to be intimidated by authority and not to question the dictates from on high. We are trained to be powerless, especially if we were good students working hard to please within the system. It takes some mental reprogramming to get into a place where questioning (especially the schools!) is not outside our comfort zones.

--And a certain big homeschooling legal organization has spread the myth of the scary school officials far and wide and we are often under the (usually) false impression that they are out to 'get' us and that the relationship between schools and homeschools is an adversarial one. But does it really need to be?

So I will repeat what I have said before (and will undoubtedly say again), we need to empower ourselves with knowledge, work hard to protect our homeschool freedom and homeschool with confidence.

We generally don't need experts (who is more of an expert on your kid's education than you?) and we usually don't need a lawyer---we usually just need the knowledge and the confidence and then I think we might be able to change the world, one school board at a time :)


Thoughts on my Christian duty

I have been thinking about my duty as a Christian, a person who endeavors to be Christ like in her life. Of course, Christ gave the commandments to love the Lord fully and to love your neighbor as yourself (your neighbor being pretty much any member of the human race), but I was wondering how else I can pursue my duty in the Christian life. I am sure there are many others but two have popped up in my life lately.

My eldest son is studying theology this year and one of the books he is using is the Westminster Catechism. In today's lesson it talked about our duty as a Christian according to the Bible and references Malachi 6:8
"And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Be just
Love mercy
Walk humbly with God

Those certainly seem worthwhile to pursue.

And my middle son has been memorizing from 1 Thessalonians 5 which says, in part:
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,

My! How different the world would be if we could always live by those instructions, regardless of our chosen faith.

The "be joyful always" part certainly fits in with my Morethanfine mentality, although it is sometimes beyond my personal ability to achieve---same with giving thanks in all circumstances. But then that takes me to the 3rd lesson God has been giving me lately, from John 15.
He is the vine and we are the branches and apart from Him we can do nothing. Lots of times I find myself trying to do something for Him or make something happen for Him or insisting that I will be joyful and thankful all the time and then feeling angry and sad over the way someone has treated me or someone I love. I realize I just cannot be Morethanfine unless my branch is firmly rooted in the vine, nor can I be just, merciful, loving and humble without Him.

Apart from Him I can do nothing.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Okay, Okay! You can comment now!

Alright, I have enabled the comments on all the posts now--so you can go back and comment if you want to...

Thanks to those of you who have already commented, both at the blog and in e-mails.

Funny how many friends I have made who are still just in the virtual world, and yet they are as kind and supportive as if we were real life friends. It is heart warming, which is (of course) morethanfine.

I have had the additional joy of meeting some of my Virginia homeschool friends in real life. The VaHomeschoolers Board I get to see 4 times a year, of course and also many others at VaHomeschoolers special events (waving to Stephanie, Amy & Marjorie :)

But there are also a few folks out there in the cyberworld who don'tregard me in such a friendly way (okay, I admit I have been banned from an e-mail list once...but just once!) and I guess I was afraid I would hear from some of them. Hopefully not. The unfriendliness stems from one of the hot potatoes in the homeschool world and that is the blending of public schooling at home with independent homeschooling. But that is for another post...I'll get to it eventually.

Want to comment now? Ready, set, go!


Morethanfine redux: I am Christian hedonist

What's was Morethanfine again?

"More than fine" is my response when people ask 'How are you?'
It means I am a Christian hedonist who has embraced the joy of God which causes me to choose to be more than just fine in all circumstances.

'Christian hedonism' is the idea that if God is the source of our greatest delight then God is our most precious treasure; which makes us radically God-centered and not self-centered. And if we treasure God most, we glorify Him most.

Christian Hedonism may seem a contradiction if one sees Christianity as just 'religion', but it is not that; it is the unique one on one relationship with Jesus. And who doesn't take pleasure in a satisfying, loving relationship?

Being a Christian hedonist is desiring the vast, ocean-deep pleasures of God. I'm a Christian hedonist because I believe Psalm 16:11, "You show me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy, in Your right hand are pleasures for evermore."

I pursue satisfaction in God, because God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.

[credit for much of these words and ideas go to John Piper of 'Desiring God' Ministries]

The More than Fine phrase comes from the Switchfoot song by Jonathan Foreman from the "Beautiful Letdown" CD.

When I'm up with the sunrise
I want more than just blue skies.
I want more than just ok, more than just ok.

I'm not giving up, giving up, not giving up now.
I'm not giving up, giving up, not backing down.

More than fine, more than bent on getting by.
More than fine, more than just ok.


On my 3rd day of blogging some comments came to me...

At the end of the my second day of blogging I got up the courage to open some of the posts up for comments. It was nice on the 3rd day to get friendly comments. It was a great feeling to get that support and know that someone has read what you wrote and actually liked it...thanks!

It is an interesting exercise to take the contents of your brain, spill it on the screen and put it out there for anyone to read. I have been active spillling my brain on e-mail lists for a couple of years, but since the blog is all me, not just me responding, it is more exposed.

My 3rd day discovery is a blog is a great place to put all those thoughts I don't always have a chance to share or that I have already shared a hundred times, or the ideas that resonate in my mind or just those important issues that need to be discussed. I can see why there are now millions of blogs out there, what a great place to store the contents of your brain.

I have *never* been one to write in a journal---how is it that a blog seems easy to write, while a journal is torture? I have no idea, but this blogging stuff could be addictive. It gives me that morethanfine feeling.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A conventional musical family

I always thought that musicians were unconventional and lived a different kind of bohemian life. Maybe that is just professional musicians, because I realize we are a family full of musicians who lead a pretty conventional, vinyl sided suburb kind of life--except for maybe the homeschooling part, but even that is conventional in the groups I hang around with.

My waymorethanfine husband plays drums and all variety of percussion.
1st born son plays piano, keyboards, guitar and is thinking of taking up the bass (he is 13, but plays keyboards with our adult band.)
2nd born son is in his 3rd year of piano and is considering what instruments he will play when he is old enough to be in the band. He is considering percussion, congas etc...
3rd son taught himself through the primer level piano book last year and is now taking his first year of lessons, he also has some natural ability with the drums and a pretty decent singing voice for someone 8 yrs old.
I play the flute, sing and diddle a little on the piano.

So I guess we are a family of musicians since obviously music plays a big part in our lives. Looking at the schedule we are involved in musical activities 4-5 days a week, we play in 2 different bands, have 4 sets of lessons and 3 practices a week. Wow, that is more than I realized until I wrote it down. So we aren't unconventional, but we are definitely musicians.

I am not a soccer mom, I am a piano mom.


Everything wrong with Federal Homeschool Legislation

Here is a snippet, read it all at

Home Education Magazine

September-October 2003 - Articles and Columns

Taking Charge - Larry and Susan Kaseman

Say No To The Federal Homeschool Legislation

Aunt Tilly calls. "You know I support your homeschooling. But I just read an article about how homeschoolers are demanding special favors from the federal government. It's really not fair for homeschoolers to expect to be allowed to homeschool and still get everything kids in regular schools get."

From State Senator Reasonable you hear, "I've gone along with your notions about homeschooling laws over the years, and I know all three of your kids are doing well. But I'm concerned about families where the kids aren't learning anything. According to the federal bill that just passed, you homeschoolers are proud of how well your kids score on standardized tests. Senator You-Know-Who is getting a lot of pressure from the teachers union and social workers and is introducing a bill requiring you guys to take the same standardized tests that everyone else takes. Seems fair to me."

Then Oscar Keep-Em-In-Line, a local school official, sends you a letter: "According to our records, you have complied with state laws governing homeschooling. But under the new federal law, you are now required to submit your curriculum to my office for review and approval."

What's going on? This is an illustration of what would be likely to happen over time if the U. S. Congress passes H R 2732, a recently introduced homeschooling bill.

read it all at

All over the map

In my life recently, I have been described as (or described myself as):
Independent Homeschooler
Jesus Freak
Left Wing

One might surmise I was a little confused or at least a little scattered.
I guess it is all about perspective.

1 Corinthians 9 says Paul became all things to all men for the purpose of the Gospel.

Can I be all things to all homeschoolers, to advance the cause of homeschooling while also shining the light of the Gospel with my life?

It is an interesting tight rope walk. It often seems I am either in the midst of a group that thinks I am pretty radical and 'out there' as a
kinda leftist unschooler choosing to work in an inclusive homeschool organization among the radicals --or-- I am the lone evangelical, conservative, Christian republican (shhhh) amidst the inclusive, independent (and very often liberal and/or left wing) homeschool activists. Have I mentioned I try not to talk politics?

So I don't quite fit in here and I don't quite fit in there, but I love being both places.
It seems that even being sort of a misfit can be Morethanfine when you have truly loving and amazing Christian homeschool friends and really talented and passionate Radical homeschooling friends.

(Oh! my radical friends are amazing and loving too and my Christian friends are also talented and passionate...
she said carefully balancing on the rope.)


An inclusive evangelical unschooling homeschool activist

When people find out I serve on the Board of Directors of the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (or VaHomeschoolers) they often wonder how I, as an evangelical Christian, came to be involved with the state organization that is inclusive of all homeschoolers regardless of philosophy, politics, or theology, instead of the organization that has a Christian worldview and requires a Statement of Faith of its board members--wouldn't I fit in better there?

Well maybe, but I have come to the conclusion in my 9 yrs of homeschooling that ALL homeschoolers' interests are served when we are seen by government, news media, and the public as a diverse people united in our love of our children and in our valuing freedom to teach and learn at home* (thanks Shay for those good words). When homeschoolers are viewed as an exclusive group of fundamental Christians, we are pegged as a narrow niche group and our ability to preserve and expand homeschool freedoms becomes limited. That defeats the pupose of being effective for homeschoolers.

The fact is VaHomeschoolers is not the secular statewide homeschooling organization, it is the inclusive statewide homeschooling organization. While those of diverse, unconventional or simply no faith may feel more comfortable in our organization, that does not mean that it is secular or in any way excluding those who embrace the Christian faith--after all they let me

A couple of other reasons:
In Virginia (and in most states) the Christian worldview organization has close ties to that national legal defense org that purports to speak for homeschoolers (though they do not speak for me!), and so I have philosophical issues with joining or supporting them.

And Jesus was not exclusive, so why should I be? I do shelter my children in many ways until they are older, but I see no reason to shelter myself from those with common interests and goals in the homeschooling community. And as much as I adore the fellowship of like-minded Christian homeschooling believers, I also choose to work with those of different ideas and beliefs for the good of homeschooling and maybe my light will even shine a bit among those who haven't met my lovely Savior.

Sometimes, it means I bite my tongue when others speak unknowingly but irreverently of something I hold dear or that I remain silent when those of vastly different political views say things I might find offensive, but I think it is worth it. I have made many dear on-line friends and acquaintances with homeschool activists who share my views on independent homeschooling. And on the VaHomeschoolers Board I have made real-life friends with people who probably shake their heads at my 'Jesus freak' mentality, but appreciate that I am willing to work side by side and even hand in hand with those who come from a whole different world of faith.

So in the big world of homeschool activism, inclusivity is Morethanfine and VaHomeschoolers is way Morethanfine!


Do I need a lawyer? aka homeschooling with confidence

Many new homeschoolers ask me if they need to join a certain national legal defense group for homeschoolers. My answer is always a resounding 'no way'.

Why? Because homeschooling is legal in every state and you don't need a lawyer to engage in a perfectly legal activity. What you need is knowledge of the law for your state and a little bit of confidence. I cannot in good conscience ever recommend joining that particular national organization that claims to speak for homeshoolers because I have serious reservations about their mission and strong objections to their activities.

They are into creating an unnecessary culture of fear around homeschooling, as if the truant officer, the social worker or the school district is just lying in wait to snatch your kids as soon as they can find a way to catch you. They send out alarmist alerts and newsletters filled with parents whose freedoms have been threatened until they rode in to save the day--when in fact, those situations are the exceptions rather than the norm.

The reality is, the vast majority of homeschoolers never encounter any opposition from any official source. If they encounter difficulties with local school authorities, it is almost always resolved by understanding the law, remaining calm and having a civil conversation about the law's requirements with the appropriate official. Often just a simple letter solves the issue.

That same organization is also the architect of the most restrictive HS laws in the nation. They are also trying to enact Federal legislation that is at least unnecessary and at worst brings the federal govt into the business of regulating homeschooling [shudder]--and who needs to deal with federal regs on top of state ones? Of course, if that happened then you might need a lawyer...gee, would that increase the membership of a certain organization.

They have a national presence that they could be using to encourage, educate and empower homeschoolers (like another group NHELD does), instead they use scare tactics to build their membership--I personally find it reprehensible.

BTW, most legal cases that involve homeschoolers are custody cases--and that big national organization doesn't even take custody cases.

So here is my conclusion:
Empower yourself with knowledge and homeschool with confidence, because homeschooling with confidence is Morethanfine.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Reflections of the mom of a 13 year old 9th grader

My oldest son has a late birthday. Very late actually. Dec 31st to be precise. Far too late to start school with the other kids born that year. But I started him anyway, in homeschool that is. I wanted to "do school", he loved workbooks, it was a good the time anyway.

Now he is 13 and he is a high school freshman and pursuing a study of Church History and Systematic Theology (---his choice).

He is certainly academically ready for High School.
And he is socially ready--- serious and responsible, but goofy enough to fit in with his buddies.
He plays keyboards in our adult praise band.
Guess I am one the one who isn't ready...

It was also disconcerting when there was a question about our High School Youth Group as to whether 13 y.o.s should be allowed, even if they were entering High if chronological age really accurately reflected maturity. As if...must be the school mindset, pretty sure the question would never have come up if they had skipped a grade in school and were enrolling as 9th graders at the local high school. That generated some unpleasantness, but God still managed to be glorified in the midst of it.

So, if my 13 y.o. being a 9th grader will bring glory to God through his life, then I guess it is Morethanfine with me, even though it has just gone entirely too fast...sigh


Why Homeschooling?

Why do I homeschool?
Why have I chosen to travel out of the mainstream?
Because I know who my sons' best teacher is (that would be me :)
Because I love being with my kids and I love teaching them (or rather helping them learn) and learning alongside them.
Because it is what God called me to do.
Because we never have to be up early enough to catch the 7:05 bus.

When my oldest was 4 we started Kindergarten (side note from the mom of a 13 yr old high schooler--don't start them early!) and we have never looked back. When each of my sons reached school age, I couldn't even imagine sending them off to be molded and shaped all day by a stranger--I knew most of the other moms did it, but for me it was just never an option (did I mention God's calling?)

But there is one other reason--not my original reason, but a political reason:
Because I no longer believe in the public education system and its results, for both individuals and for society. I have been radicalized by the writings of John Holt and John Taylor Gatto. I believe that traditional public education does more to hinder learning than to educate citizens.

Once upon a time, I loved school, I loved going to school and I was a good student. I became a schoolteacher so I could go to school forever! And I loved teaching school for 7+ years. But I have changed my mind. Go on-line and read some Gatto about the genesis and structure of public school, read some Holt about how children actually learn, maybe you will change your mind too.

In my heart I realize I have no other choice but to homeschool
--and that is Morethenfine with me.


Autodidactic Unschooling

Autodidactic Unschooling-sorry if that is redundant.
Autodidactic means self educated

Unschooling (according to me) is Child Directed Autodidactism

Homeschooling is fine, but unschooling is Morethanfine.

True learning - learning that is permanent and useful, that leads to
intelligent action and further learning - can arise only out of the experience, interests, and concerns of the learner. John Holt

Birds fly, fish swim, children learn. Paraphrased from John Holt
(actual quote "Birds fly, fish swim, man thinks and learns.")

"Learning only happens when a child is interested. Otherwise, it is
like throwing marshmallows at their heads and calling it eating."
(unattributed but thanks to Stephanie from VaEclecticHS)

What's Morethanfine?

"More than fine" is my response when people ask 'How are you?'
What does it mean? It means that I am intent on living with the joy of the Lord in my heart in all circumstances. I have chosen in my life to glorify God and enjoy Him forever---if I am enjoying Him, I must be more than fine and certainly more than just okay.

The phrase comes from the Switchfoot song of that name from the "Beautiful Letdown" CD.

The things that make me Morethanfine are Jesus awesome presence in my life (of course), because there is nothing better than that joy. Then my terrific husband, my 3 amazing boys, music (theirs, mine and ours), my great friends who are gifts from God, reading long books (especially historical stuff), homeschooling and helping others homeschool (the best hsing organization Vahomeschoolers), moving water (waterfalls, rivers, oceans whatever) and peace and quiet (that is the introvert in me.)

So I choose to be Morethanfine.